Teen confined to home on threat charge

May 11, 1999|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A 17-year-old Jefferson County student charged with making a false bomb threat against the Berkeley County school system last week was placed on home confinement Tuesday.

The student is expected to appear today before Berkeley County Circuit Judge Christopher Wilkes so the court can determine if the youth is "delinquent and incorrigible," according to Berkeley County Assistant Prosecutor Gina Groh.

The determination is the equivalent of determining whether someone is guilty or innocent in an adult case, Groh said.

The student is suspected of making a bomb threat Friday morning that resulted in the evacuation of 13,000 students from the district's 25 schools for the rest of the day.

School officials, police and fire personnel fanned out across the county to search schools for possible explosives but found nothing.

The teenager was arrested at about 1:20 p.m. Monday after Martinsburg High School Principal Rick Deuell told police some students overheard the boy talking about the bomb threat, said Martinsburg City Police Detective Kevin Miller.


School officials started piecing together the case Friday evening when a student contacted a teacher with information about the case, said Superintendent of Schools Manny Arvon.

School officials discussed the case over the weekend, then started to work on it Monday, Arvon said.

"A lot of the information I cannot share with you, but there were other parties involved," Arvon said.

The student, who had been released to his parents, was in to Berkeley County Magistrate Court on Tuesday afternoon to determine if he should be held in a juvenile detention center.

Because of an agreement worked out between the prosecutor's office and the boy's family, the hearing was not held and it was decided to put the student on home detention with certain provisions, Groh said.

The student also waived a preliminary hearing, which shortens the period of time before the case goes to a Circuit judge, Groh said.

If a judge determines a teenager to be delinquent and incorrigible, the youth can be placed in a facility for rehabilitation, Groh said.

Last Friday's bomb threat angered many parents in a community already trying to cope with tensions caused by the April 20 massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.

But on Tuesday, tensions seemed to be easing in schools, Arvon said.

Arvon praised police for increasing their presence around schools to maintain calm.

"I'm sure everybody feels relieved," said Arvon.

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